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A fair for the ages Perfect weather draws huge crowds to midway, parade and Tent City for 95th gala week in town
ANDY FASNACHT Review Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
, Staff Writer
It would be difficult to find a fair organizer who doesn’t agree that one word really says it all when predicting the success of their event.
Great weather, not too cool and not too warm, with no precipitation, almost always guarantees large enthusiastic crowds supporting the vendors, participating in the various activities, coming back night after night, after night.
This year’s 95th Ephrata Fair was fortunate enough to have an entire week of the weather described above. Nearly every day, Tuesday through Saturday, featured high temperatures in the ’70s and lows in the ’50s. If a drop of rain was witnessed any time in the five days, it evidently was never reported. Throughout the week, it was difficult to find anyone who remembered a week with such good fortune weather-wise.
"I don’t remember (a fair) where we didn’t have rain from set-up to tear-down. If we did, it was a long, long time ago," said Ephrata Farmers Day Association President Galen Kulp. Kulp, 64, said that although he has only been on that board for four years, he has been with the Akron Lions and their famous toasted cheeseburgers for more than 25 at the fair – not to mention he has been attending it since he was 4 or 5.
Kulp said it is difficult to estimate how big the crowds were but is sure there were several hundred thousand in attendance over the five days. In addition to the midway and Tent City, the fair parade Wednesday saw massive crowds lining the street for Ephrata’s biggest night of the year.
"Friday night seemed like the largest crowd but I wasn’t uptown to see what Wednesday looked like because of the parade," he said.
He went on to say that they won’t know where they stand financially until all the expenses come in but they do know they have received additional funds from the state (see accompanying photo) that should bring them back to levels of previous years prior to budget cuts. Kulp also said they are now making more money from the ride concessions as well. Other concessions also reported that it indeed was a good year. In fact one concessionaire interviewed late Saturday night described it as "stellar."
Additionally, there were almost no significant problems safety or police-wise officially reported throughout the week. In addition to the rumor of a potential threat Wednesday that was quickly found to indeed be just a spread rumor, another situation between an existing business and some nearby vendors was also dealt with and concluded by mid-week.
"We had safety meetings Tuesday through Friday and there were less problems (criminal incidents, juvenile delinquency, etc.) this year, and last year there were less problems than the year before," Kulp said.
One theory several of them have tossed about as a possible reason, which may be difficult to prove, is the introduction of all-you-can ride wristbands at last year’s fair by new ride vendor Houghton Enterprises, Inc.
"Someone suggested they ride more and they get tired," Kulp said, with a laugh but also thinking there may be something to it. "One officer said he thought they may be going home earlier also.
"The wristbands are also good for the fair because they may be bringing more people in," Kulp continued.
Kulp’s term on the board is up at the end of the year but he hasn’t decided what he will do at this point. Clearly he is a big believer in the cause and is very grateful for all those who make it come together.
"I want to thank all of the volunteers – it takes hundreds of volunteers," Kulp said. "People don’t realize how many it takes to make this happen."
And make it happen they did…a fair to remember that will most certainly be used as a measuring stick for years to come.
More FAIR, page A19